Karma is a very lovely, young and energetic Pitbull mix. During her visits at the DMVC, whenever I enter the exam room, she greets me with a lot of barking but is quick to make friends. Especially if you offer her a treat, for which she eagerly sits and "shakes hands".
This photo shows how she looked in November of last year:
As you can see, she had lost a considerable amount of fur. Her skin was very red, greasy and inflamed. It also had many" pimples" mostly located on her neck. Robert, her dad, also informed me that she had recently gotten over a bout of fleas and had lost weight since the condition started.
To get a diagnosis, a skin scrape was performed. This is a common technique employed by veterinarians to look for specific causes of skin disease. It involves using a scalpel blade to gently scrape and collect surface debris from the skin. Once collected, the debris are examined microscopically.
This photo shows what was found:
It shows a mite of the species Demodex (magnified thousands of times) and confirmed that Karma suffered from Demodectic Mange, which is an overgrowth of these mites.
Believe it or not, under normal conditions all mammals have Demodectic mites living in our hair follicles. Most of the time, our immune systems keep them in check and they do not cause any problems. Occasionally, in young dogs who's immune systems haven't fully "kicked into gear", demodectic mites opportunistically conquer the skin, reproducing to great numbers and cause inflammation and hair loss. Bacterial infection follow suit, resulting in pimples.
"...all mammals normally have Demodectic mites living in our hair follicles. Most of the time, our immune systems keep them in check and they do not cause any problems"
Once the diagnosis was made, Karma was started on a course of Ivermectin. This is the same anti-parasitic medication used in monthly heartworm preventatives to prevent that disease. For mange, it is given daily at much higher doses for up to 12 weeks. Antibiotics and an antimicrobial shampoo was also prescribed for Karma to treat the secondary bacterial component of the condition.
"... in young dogs who's immune systems haven't fully "kicked into gear", demodectic mites opportunistically conquer the skin, reproducing to great numbers and cause inflammation and hair loss"
Robert did a fantastic job following our instructions and with each subsequent medical progress exam, Karma's skin looked better and better!
This is how she looked after one month of treatment:
...and at the end of her course of treatment:
Thanks to Robert, his mom, and Karma for letting me share her case! Also thanks to Samantha for putting up with all my photos.
-Mike Bukowski DVM 2/5/2015